Last October when I had lunch in Baton Rouge with Scott McKay, the first of his op-eds championing an American revivalism had just appeared in The American Spectator. There, he had proclaimed that Bush Republicanism was effectively dead, that “conservatism” had been quite unsuccessful at conserving anything, and that Trump was a John the Baptist figure who had set the table for the coming revival.
My appetite for Scott’s vision grew rapidly as he published a follow-up article a month later. Since there was little left of the Founders’ vision left to “conserve,” it was time, he said, to move from passive, defense-minded conservatism to an activist, offense-minded revivalism.
“We need,” he admonished us, “to push back against the incompetence and treason which have encroached upon our liberty and prosperity, and we need a reflowering of the cultural, economic, and political patrimony our forebears gave us.”
Reviving the American spirit, and the American nation, he suggested, should rest on four major tenets. First, too much government makes stealing easier than earning a living, as government power is both corrupt and self-protective. Second, government is representative not of the people but of the interests with access; thus, revivalism should shore up civil society to revitalize long-dormant self-functioning communities.
Third, as we cede more power to government, it corrodes nearly every institution in our culture. Revivalists, therefore, must foster creation of an effusive culture not subject to government control or intervention, one that replaces the greatly decayed educational, entertainment, and informational (media) institutions.
Finally, McKay said, revivalists must stop allowing abuses by corporatist oligarchs (whose power is akin to that of government) and bring forth a new anti-corporate capitalism that can bring prosperity across the board. Stop defending low tax rates for monopolistic corporatists who exercise their wealth and power in support of their government partners.
McKay has promised a sequel to The Revivalist Manifesto, to be entitled The Revivalist Agenda. McKay intends to get it out before the November elections. Meanwhile, the gauntlet has been laid down for others to contribute, connect, and take appropriate actions.
The good news, McKay announces, is that, like Bushism, the American Left is also running out of gas (literally as well as figuratively). Every grandiose idea they have foisted upon the nation that has augmented their power has brought disaster to ordinary Americans – and we know it.
Truth be told, this was true quite a while back, but two Bushes, a Dole, a McCain, a Romney, and a Liz Cheney seemed afraid to confront the Big Bad Wolf lest they be swallowed up and spit out. Trump was not a conservative, but he was the first to recognize that the emperors had no clothes and could thus be ridiculed into unforced errors that revealed their abject corruption and incompetence. In so doing, Trump generated hatred both from the exposed Left and the embarrassed (so-called) Right. The bullies and the quails joined together to rid themselves of this Trumpian pestilence, but in so doing they only magnified their problem.
The Trump White House was plagued by leftover Bushies, Clintonistas, and a general lack of well-trained troops. Trump was too often blindsided by those in whom he had placed his trust. But his speeches and promises kept (notably, moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem) drew huge crowds and inspired a new generation of very diverse candidates for offices from school board to Senate.
The power elites are very aware that a tsunami is coming, but their only response has been to impeach Trump three times (counting the January 6th star chamber). Relying on those age-old reliables, fear and demonization, may not work anymore. The new Trump-appointed originalist Supreme Court majority has already produced fruit that has further embittered the angry, violence-prone mob.
Like the dry bones called out by Ezekiel the Prophet, a multiracial, grassroots revivalist army appears to be forming. This army, McKay decided, needed a manifesto – a call to action grounded in sound principles. It will also need an agenda, a contract with (not just for) Americans, one that a new Congress can begin implementing next January. McKay, who has taken on the job, will doubtless be inundated with ideas and suggestions from his readers.
McKay cites as leading prophets who foretold an American revival the late Andrew Breitbart, Rush Limbaugh, and Angelo Codevilla. While the first two are household names, the Italian-born philosopher’s 2010 essay, “America’s Ruling Class and the Perils of Revolution,” in McKay’s view, revealed the challenge facing those who seek to revive a broken nation.
Codevilla saw a ruling class with an unfailing belief in its divine right to rule over a “country class” Hillary Clinton would later call “unredeemable deplorables.” Their peers are the progeny of European bankers and royals who (until now) have likewise championed the abolition of fossil fuels and claimed that, through fear and force, they can subjugate Mother Nature.
Codevilla prophesied that people would one day rise up against the elites, and it was Trump who blew the trumpet and rallied the troops. The COVID lockdowns, designed by the rulers to further subjugate the miscreants, instead provided the “country class” with time and a growing fury that has already erupted as the Biden Administration crumbles before us.
McKay concludes his manifesto with a five-pronged platform that updates and replaces Reagan’s three-legged stool of anti-communism, social conservatism, and supply-side economics. The first prong is resisting China’s push for world dominance; the second is protecting the working class by controlling and managing immigration.
Third, McKay says that to ensure that entrepreneurship and small businesses will continue to drive our economy, we must restrict or even break up oligopolistic mega-companies. Walmart, Amazon, and Google used their political clout to reap massive profits during the politics-driven lockdowns that destroyed myriads of shuttered smaller companies.
Fourth, revivalists must take on the ugly challenge to roll back the political and legal corruption that has created a dual-track system that lets elites break the law with impunity but throws the book at its enemies. The people cannot tolerate a system in which the justice system proclaims a politician guilty but immune from prosecution.
The fifth challenge will be the hardest, thanks largely to the total capture of our nation’s education system by the woke Left. The revival will be complete only when wokeism, cancel culture, and critical race theory can no longer corrupt and degrade all our cultural institutions. Only then can we return to the Judeo-Christian value system that spread freedom and prosperity to a long-subjugated world.
McKay ends the manifesto with one caveat – winning this revolutionary war against the woke elites will require cast-iron stomachs unfazed by the sight of blood, unfettered by the vilest condemnations from both the Left and the old-line “right” (Liz Cheney). Some will be broken, but there is hope that others will rise and carry on the fight.
Emerging leaders of this revivalist movement increasingly come from immigrant and minority populations long seen as electoral captives of the Left. Just as freed slaves rapidly joined the fledgling Republican Party after the Civil War, this growing army is determined to fight to free their communities from decades of mediocrity and neglect – and to recapture the American dream so long denied them.